Re: Orca Quiting orca

Rich Burridge wrote:
Using, I "recorded" Insert-Space being typed, into
a file. It's called "show_preferences" and a copy is attached to this message.

I bet you could easily hook all this up to launch via the #2 menu item above.

Great! That gives us some options for that one.

Key bindings like Insert-q are not very accessible to GUI-trained non-technical Ubuntu users :) Esp. when it's not well documented in the OS itself.

Couple of things here.

1/ Mike Pedersen has told me that the special keystrokes we are using in Orca should be familiar to users of other screen readers. I just went to look at what
JAWS uses:

Sorry I was being a bit obtuse here :)  Let me take a few steps back.

We are dealing with users with a wide range of abilities here, more or less able to do different things. None of us can read the data directly from the magnetic platers of the HD so we all need the computers to help us out in various ways. Whether we are disabled or not (in the context of using the computer) all depends on how well it is configured for us. Personally, I have a minor motor impairment, which I generally get around by using sticky keys.

When I wrote 'GUI-trained' users I was mainly thinking of non-visually impaired users, but I'll admit that I was being unclear (so I'm erring on the side of verbosity in this clarification).

Obviously Orca is written for visually impaired users. The main development effort has gone into the screen reader part because that's where a change of paradigm was due, and magnification has been added in largely as it was. So you may ask why am I going on and on about non-disabled users? Surely they can manage well enough without our help. Well, yes and no.

In Ubuntu we are hoping to eventually reach out to many new user groups who have not traditionally used Linux. This includes existing Windows-users, but also the elderly, the very young, people who have never used computers before, etc. For this to work the default install needs to be usable for all these groups and preferably not have jagged edges.

From this point of view the assistive tools need to play nice with the rest of the default desktop. A very inexperienced computer user needs to be able to explore the desktop without running into nasty surprises. With the original way Orca was set up on Edgy, this user might start Orca talking during the course of general desktop exploration, and not be able to turn it off again. Worse, AT-SPI would be set to start each time on boot, with it's hidden quirks, bugs and resource use. The desktop would seem a bit more broken to that person. Of course this is not the core user group for Orca, but it is one of the key target groups for distros like Ubuntu.

In the course of working on this topic for the past year and a bit now, I've become convinced that the best way to improve provisions of assistive technology is to integrate it with the main stream as closely as possible, and that will always require flexibility on both sides. Attempts have been made at making purpose-built derivatives with enhanced access support, including Oralux and our own derivative of Hoary. But these always lead to fragmentation, lack of maintenance and lack of general useful features. When we managed to get some basic access support into dapper we made an important step IMO, getting on the default track where we are carried along by the efforts of the whole community. That implementation was a bit buggy, but I think it was worth doing because Edgy is now starting to show promise from an access perspective. By joining the default distro we benefit from some great work by 'default' developers, we get a wider distribution and more exposure. All of which is good for our community.

However, with those benefits also come responsibilities. When we include these tools in the default desktop we must also make every effort to get along with the other user groups. Basically that means minimising any potential negative impact it might have on their computing experience. These 'other' people are not our 'core users', but do represent 99%+ of the users of the platform.

Sorry for the long speech (again!). I just wanted to clarify this perspective. You guys have done a great job in developing Orca. Creating a screen reader is the hard part; making it fit nicely with the default desktop is comparatively easy. And part of my role is to bring these different perspectives together. I'm a big supporter of universal design, but that must be approached from both sides.

Finally getting to your point: I'm sure sure the key-bindings you have chosen are good ones for the intended user group. It's just that a few key functions like turning off the program and perhaps also settings/general information should be easily discoverable by anyone.

(as an aside: the Insert+key bindings are not accessible to users of sticky keys ;) )

2/ We are in the process of writing a simple Orca manual page; what you would get in a terminal window if you type "man orca". It already has a reference to the GNOME Accessibility Guide, but it looks like I should also include a section giving all the special Orca commands. I'll add that in tomorrow.

Great, that will help! We can put that on the website ( and in the on-CD documentation.

- Henrik

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